The Tabernacle of David
King David was a man of “one thing” (Ps. 27:4). Around 1000 BC, as an outflow of his heart, he commanded that the ark of the covenant be brought up on the shoulders of the Levites amidst the sound of songs and musical instruments to his new capital, Jerusalem. There he had it placed in a tent and appointed 288 prophetic singers and 4,000 musicians to minister before the Lord, “to make petition, to give thanks and to praise the Lord” day and night (1 Chr. 15:1–17:27).
The Davidic Order of Worship
Although the tabernacle was replaced by a temple, the Davidic order of worship was embraced and reinstituted by seven subsequent leaders in the history of Israel and Judah. Each time this order of worship was reintroduced, spiritual breakthrough, deliverance, and military victory followed.
Solomon instructed that worship in the temple should be in accordance with the Davidic order (2 Chr. 8:14–15).
Jehoshaphat defeated Moab and Ammon by setting singers up in accordance with the Davidic order: singers at the front of the army singing the Great Hallel. Jehoshaphat reinstituted Davidic worship in the temple (2 Chr. 20:20–22, 28).
Joash (2 Chr. 23:1–24:27).
Hezekiah cleansed and reconsecrated the temple and reinstituted the Davidic order of worship (2 Chr. 29:1–36; 30:21).
Josiah reinstituted Davidic worship (2 Chr. 35:1–27).
Historians have also speculated that around the time of Jesus, in their search to find communion with God, the Essenes of the Judean wilderness reinstituted Davidic worship as part of their life of prayer and fasting.
Alexander Akimetes and the Sleepless Ones
Born in Asia Minor and educated in Constantinople, Alexander became an officer in the Roman army. Challenged by Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler from Matthew 19:21, Akimetes sold his possessions and retreated from court life to the desert. He had the misfortune to fall in with a group of robbers. His evangelistic zeal, however, could not be contained and he converted these outcasts into devoted followers of Jesus. This group became the core of his band of monks.
Around AD 400, he returned to Constantinople with 300–400 monks, where he exhorted his people to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17). Driven from Constantinople, the monks established the monastery at Gormon, at the mouth of the Black Sea. The monks were divided into six choirs rotating throughout the day, each new choir relieving the one before, to create uninterrupted prayer and worship twenty-four hours a day.
The lasting impact of these monks has been their worship and their contribution to church liturgy. The monasteries, numbering into the hundreds and sometimes thousands, were organized into national groups of Latins, Greeks, Syrians, and Egyptians, and then into choirs. In addition to praying without ceasing, which passed into the Western church with St. Maurice of Agaune, they developed the Divine Office—the literal carrying out of Psalm 119:164, “Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous judgments.” This became an integral part of the Benedictine rule of the seven hours of prayer.
In AD 522, he had praying without ceasing instituted in a monastery. Choirs of monks would sing in rotation, with one choir relieving the previous choir, continuing day and night. This practice went on until around AD 900, impacting monasteries all over France and Switzerland.
At Bangor in the famed Vale of the Angels, Comgall instituted a rigid monastic rule of incessant prayer and fasting. Far from turning people away, this ascetic rule attracted thousands. When Comgall died in AD 602, the annals report that three thousand monks looked to him for guidance.
Throughout the sixth century, Bangor became famous for its choral psalmody. “It was this music which was carried to the Continent by the Bangor Missionaries in the following century” (Hamilton, Rector of Bangor Abbey). Divine services of the seven hours of prayer were carried out throughout Bangor’s existence, but the monks went further and carried out the practice of praying without ceasing.
This continuous singing was antiphonal in nature, based on the call and response reminiscent of Patrick’s vision, but also practiced by St. Martin’s houses in Gaul. Many of these psalms and hymns were later written down in the Antiphonary of Bangor, which came to reside in Colombanus’ monastery at Bobbio, Italy.
The Bangor Missionaries
The ascetic life of prayer and fasting was the attraction of Bangor, but over time Bangor also became a famed seat of learning and education. The monastery further became a missions-sending community. Even to this day, missionary societies are based in the town.
In AD 580, a Bangor monk named Mirin took Christianity to Paisley, where he died “full of miracles and holiness.” In 590, the fiery Colombanus, one of Comgall’s leaders, set out from Bangor with twelve other brothers, including Gall who planted monasteries throughout Switzerland.
Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians
In 1722, Zinzendorf bought the Berthelsdorf estate from his grandmother and installed a Pietist preacher in the local Lutheran church. That same year Zinzendorf came into contact with a Moravian preacher, Christian David, who persuaded the young count of the sufferings of the persecuted Protestants in Moravia. Christian David returned to Bohemia and brought many to settle on Zinzendorf’s estate, forming the community of Herrnhut, The Watch of the Lord. The community quickly grew to around three hundred.
A new spirituality now characterized the community, with men and women being committed to bands, or choruses, to encourage one another in the life of God. August of 1727 is seen as the Moravian Pentecost. Zinzendorf said August 13 was “a day of the outpourings of the Holy Spirit upon the congregation; it was its Pentecost.” Within two weeks of the outpouring, twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted to pray “hourly intercessions,” thus praying every hour around the clock. They were committed to see that, “the fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out” (Lev. 6:13). The numbers committed to this endeavor soon increased to around seventy from the community. This prayer meeting would go nonstop for more than one hundred years, and is seen by many as the spiritual power behind the impact the Moravians had on the world.
From the prayer room at Herrnhut came a missionary zeal that has hardly been surpassed in church history. Typically, when it comes to world missions, the Protestant laity to missionary ratio has been 5000 to 1. The Moravians, however, saw a much increased ratio of 60 to 1. By 1776, some 226 missionaries had been sent out from the community at Herrnhut. It is also through the missions-minded Moravians that John Wesley came to faith.
24/7 Prayer in the Twentieth Century
In 1973, David Yonggi Cho, Pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea, established Prayer Mountain with night-and-day prayer. Prayer Mountain was soon attracting over a million visitors per year, as people would spend retreats in the prayer cells provided on the mountain. Cho had a commitment to continuous prayer, to faith, and to establishing small discipleship cells in his church. Perhaps as a result, Cho’s church rapidly expanded to become the largest church congregation on the globe, with membership now over 780,000.
On September 19, 1999, the International House of Prayer of Kansas City, Missouri, started a worship-based prayer meeting, which has continued for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week ever since. With a similar vision to Zinzendorf, that the fire on the altar should never go out, there has never been a time when worship and prayer has not ascended to heaven since that date.
At the same time, in many other places around the world, God placed desires and plans for 24/7 prayer in the fabric of diverse ministries and in the hearts of leaders. This has resulted in 24/7 houses of prayer and prayer mountains being established in every continent of the earth.
Eastgate House of Prayer in Quispamsis, NB is just another expression of this movement across the earth. Our desire is to pioneer 24/7 prayer and worship in the nation of Canada! We are offering Jesus our worship, and partnering with Him in intercession for justice and the transformation of every sphere of society.
Information taken from https://www.ihopkc.org/prayerroom/history/ - edited by Tatyana Russell-Chipp